Friday, December 20, 2013

SH121 - Auferstehen des B├╝roarbeits

video: Patlabor TV
music: Equilibrium - "Prolog auf Erden"
link: zippyshare [26.3 MB]
editor: Magix 2.0+ deLuxe
production date: December 2013

After more than a year and a half of not doing anything, I got off the schneid and finished SH121, a concept video that redeems itself by having Patlabor and Equilibrium in it.  This was also a good test run for a bunch of other long cuts that are still on the drawing board, even if it's pretty unlikely that a lot of them are ever going to become videos.

This video comes with a manifesto, because this is what editors do when they don't edit much any more: they pontificate about why editing is worthless and pointless.


This is the first AMV in a long while where I can think that I may have created something.  I have seen what's at the bottom of the well, and there's nothing there.

Specifically, when we think about AMVs, we generally think about sync, about story, and about the mood or feeling.  However, the first two of these are really founded on sand.  On SH119, I explored the idea of sync and found that there was less there than supposed: you could 'sync' the same video to two quite different audio tracks simultaneously.  SH119 does not have the best sync in the world, not in either track, but that it works at all -- and plays very differently depending on the audio -- undermines the idea that sync is deterministic.  If you have a 120 bpm song -- the classic moderato tempo that practically everything on the radio is at, you can count along in 4/4 if you like and put your second hand on it -- you get 2 beats to the second, so the most that any cut or movement can be out of sync with some beat or another is .25 seconds.  That's getting pretty close to the limits of perceptive closure, the threshold where the human mind just says "it's supposed to be together, so we'll interpret it as together".  If you have a faster song, your windows are even smaller: this makes it easier to synch, contrary to a lot of received wisdom, because your hits and changes are necessarily closer to something, no matter where they happen to occur.

SH115 of course attacks the idea that 'story' is necessarily a contribution of the editor.  If people can find intent and direction in SH115, they are 1) creating it themselves 2) out of the bones of the single film source.  This shows that 'story' is going to be an emergent property in anything cut out of directed footage: because we don't shoot our own footage, there is always someone else's story embedded in it.  This can be alleviated a little by cutting out of a large number of sources, or very, very, deliberate crosscutting, but this is wicked hard, and we don't, as a community, hold people to this rigorous standard when they claim to have put a story in.  What 'story' means, in the main, in AMVs, is that someone has taken only the 3 minutes of cuts needed to tell someone else's story, discarding everything that they felt was extraneous.

So if 'sync' is largely suspect, and 'story' almost completely suspect, there's only 'mood' left.  This is kind of where SH121 came from, picking up on strands from SH119: if the same video can play differently depending on the audio track, perhaps 'mood' is solely a reaction to the song, and a video would be as expressive with panes of solid color instead of animation -- or with scenes of regular office work.  This is incomplete as yet, because there's still some internal setup in this one, and a directorial hand (mine and mostly Head Gear's) setting up sequences of shots rather than forming a pure visualization of the sound.  But to the extent that this video is epic rather than episch, mood is an emergent property of the music.  Ask yourself: when did you hear of an AMV whose video made dark and brooding music light and happy, or light and happy music dark and anguished?  The music commands, and the visuals follow.

To reiterate:
- 'sync' exists in a fairly debatable fashion and can be done by accident
- 'story' is an emergent property of anything rebuilt out of parts that were directed to begin with
- 'mood' is an emergent property of the music that gets passed to the video passim
This leaves the AMV editor with very little to do; their contribution is mostly the idea, the discovery of synthesis between music and video.  Most AMVing is thus an immensely more time-consuming and nit-picking way of dropping the needle as soon as the MGM lion roars.  This is the ultimate explanation of why there is such a fascination with effects, with masking, with combining multiple titles: these are all original things that an editor can do to add value to something that in many ways would be able to function without them.  From the other side, if you're not doing that stuff, because it's hard, because it's less possible with your setup, because it's only tenuously related to the part where you combine music with animation in a way someone else hasn't thought of, then your videos do not have enough original content in them to justify words like "creator" or "artist".

That said, people eventually fall out the other side as well: no matter how much original work they spackle on, they're ultimately working with someone else's scaffold, and will eventually pursue actual original animation, filmmaking, or direction on order to break free from the constraints of AMV.  So AMV at its base is pointless, and at its most developed heights is incomplete and self-defeating.

This doesn't mean that people should stop making videos.  What it does mean is that people should be conscious of what AMV is, and then make the videos they want to make, the way they want to make them, in the awareness that this is a lot of smoke and shadows.  So is life.  If the knowledge that AMVs are an empty bucket with a hole in it stops you from editing, your potential videos were probably crap.  And if it doesn't, hopefully it will make people work harder, to produce the best and most fully realized empty buckets with holes in the bottom that they can.


The translations: the video title is probably best translated as "Rising of the Officework", like on the original .org forum ad card.  "Ein Zeichentrickfilmauseinandersetzung des K. u. K. Stromler AGs" is "An AMV (literally, "(drawn) animation video disassociation") from K. and K. Stromler Incorporated"; 'u.' is short for 'und' and appears like this in a lot of Germanic business names, while 'AG' is short for Aktiengesellschaft, a company traded on the stock market.  The point of this stuff is that Equilibrium write a lot of fancy German in unreadable fonts, and the video is all office work.  In the source cards, "tonband" is "soundtrack", "bildnisherkunft" is a clunky way of writing "visual source", "Bewegspolizisten Patlabor" is a freehand retranslation of "Kidou Keisatsu Patolabor" (Mobile Police Patlabor), and "Fernsehserie" is the longest way I could find of writing "TV (series)".  The last card reads: "Legally and Socially Responsible: fuckit, dude", because this is the punchline of the credits sequence.

Friday, June 15, 2012

SH120 - Arclight - A History of Violence

video: Denpa Teki na Kanojo
music: Dysentery - "Epilogue"
link: depositfiles [5.8 MB]
editor: Magix 2.0+ deLuxe
production date: April 2012

This is finally released here due to finding a semi-reliable host.  The rest of the catalog will probably get moved to depositfiles over the next couple months, with a notification when it's complete.

This is probably going to end up being the last SH video.  I have a few other irons in the fire, but working on them is not a real priority.  Stuff may occasionally show up here relating to that, but it's best to treat this as the closing of this particular chapter.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sevastopol rough cut

video: Tae Guk Gi
music: Heaven Shall Burn - "Sevastopol"
link: mediafire [4.4 MB]

This is a rough cut of the first 21 seconds of a video I've been not working on for the past three months, since it was too hot to do anything. I only had the first vob cut -- there are like 6 more left, including nearly all of the content that will go in the bulk of the video -- but after such a long layoff I had to do something to assure myself that I even knew how to do this shit. Hence, this cut.

The final video is probably not going to look a lot like this, composition-wise, but the trigger behavior is probably pretty close. I may play around with the color, but in the final analysis I don't know what to do with blastbeats, especially on such a violent source and directly aggressive music, except trigger them, and it mostly works. If this was going into an actual cut, I'd've fixed some points up, but even as it is, it works ok, which is what I was trying to convince myself of.

Note: there are 8 triggered sections in these 20 seconds; compare to 28 triggers in 150 or so seconds on SH112. Granted, some of those triggered sections run on for five and ten seconds at a time, but the point remains.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

SH119 - superposed

video: Moonlight Mile
music: Cynic - "Integral Birth" or "Integral"
link: depositfiles [47 MB]
editor: Magix 2.0+ deLuxe
production date: June 2011

This video puts two audio tracks behind one video track in order to, like SH115, attack the conventional wisdom in AMVs. Where that one shows how narrative is an emergent property in any video constructed out of a single directed source, this one demonstrates that a lot of what AMVers think of as "synch" is an emergent property of the juxtaposition of any music and any visual track.

I unintentionally picked a good pair of inputs for getting this done, if bad ones for full demonstration effect; Paul Masvidal likely arranged "Integral" to match in with "Integral Birth", probably to do a two-stereo thing like you're supposed to be able to do with some Neurosis and Tribes of Neurot records, as I found out when I had the songs on the timeline. Alternately, this is just more emergence; as anyone who knows anything about music knows, if you have two tracks that go at 120 bpm, the most they can ever be out of "synch", beatwise, is a quarter of a second, which is getting right down at the limits of perceptive closure. This, also, is one of the elements that makes this video even possible.

There may be a third one in this chain, but probably not until the fall; that one is plotted to use Atheist, some production tricks, and a 30-episode source that I need to rip and cut.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

SH117 - Verlorene Herkunft: Sakana and SH118 - The Process of Calcification

This is two videos released in one brick for nostalgia reasons, and also because they're kind of short individually. The classic-Earache-cover cut from last time shows up in the credits.

video: Twilight Q2 and Angel's Egg
music: Dissection - "Feathers Fell" and "No Dreams Breed In Breathless Sleep"
link: depositfiles [20.6 MB]
editor: Magix 2.0+ deLuxe
production date: January 2011

From late October to the end of December 2010 I converted nearly all of my VHS collection to DVD. (There are still like six tapes that I need to macrovision-kill, but that's it.) There are other projects down the line that are going to use a lot of these homebrew DVDs as source, and I needed to make sure that they were going to work so I could set my expectations correctly.

So, I did a technical proof of concept (TPOC). This is the result, as the oh-so-clever backronym titles show. The original idea was just "Feathers Fell" and just Angel's Egg, but that was too obvious and "No Dreams..." gave some more space for editing. Twilight Q2 was a challenge to cut 40 unsubbed seconds out of and arrange into a video, so that got in on those merits as well. The music under the credits is obviously the start of "At The Fathomless Depths"; if I had Angel's Egg on DVD, I might have tried to cut a video for one of the real songs on Storm of the Light's Bane.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why I'm Quitting This AMV Shit

I'm not done yet, but I'm currently working my way through what are likely going to be the last O(15) videos on the to-do list. As old ideas get finished and new ones, by and large, do not replace them, it's easy to project ahead to a time when there are not going to be any more SH/INSO videos forthcoming. Below is a reason why this is becoming the case:

Click the picture to pop it out; the preview gives you the idea, but this is better seen on full size.

This is a frame that is not going to be part of SH118, the current project; it's from an anime that came out in 1985. As you can see, it looks like a Dan Seagrave cover, or like the contemporaneous stuff that other people were doing for Suffocation, Benediction, and, really, virtually every other death metal band of the late '80s and early '90s. Almost without exception, anime today does not look like this, and what it looks like today is difficult to work with in conjunction with the music that I prefer to use.

When I got into anime ten and more years ago, this was less the case; the moeification of the genre was well under way, but the title the above frame is from was only 15 years old, not 25, and more of the available anime universe could be described as "cel-painted machine grotesque", simply because less of the digital moeblob shit had been produced yet. In the intervening decade, though, there has been next to zero new cel-painted machine grotesque, and heaps and heaps of shiny digital garbage. Some of that has been actually good shows, but the visuals are utterly wrong and broken for my purposes. Digital has been unable, to date, to replicate the color palette of cel animation, let alone the sense of detail and lived-in reality that you get from a good cel background. The digital work that was used for the two SH videos that actually came out in 2010 was exceptional, but even those titles had their shortcomings.

So everything old is good, and everything new is bad? No, far from it; there's a lot of crap that was produced prior to 1998 (when digital started coming in) as well -- under-animated, underdrawn, artifacted, stupid, useless, having-giant-robots-without-Tokyo-police-badges-on-them; there's a lot of titles afflicted with these problems that disqualify them from likely ever getting into a SH video. However, it's indisputable that the pool of titles I want to work with is small, slants older, and is continually shrinking.

A lot of the titles I'd want to work with, I've already done so; this is kind of an occupational hazard of making 117 videos and having a policy, mostly, of not picking a source up again when it's been used in a demo or another video. In addition to use, there are other titles falling out of the pool due to natural factors: a lot of early-90s OVAs were poorly transferred to DVD or not transferred at all, and as time goes by fewer and fewer LDs and VHS tapes remain, and fewer and fewer players for the same remain functional. There may be cool stuff out there that I'd want to work with, but if I can't get it and put it in a usable form, it effectively doesn't exist.

Things could change, and someone could solve the shininess issue that makes most modern anime fall out of contention, but I really suspect that it isn't likely to; the audience has changed too much, and too many people want sparkles and cute, regardless of how lame the underlying content is, for the artstyles and cinematographic styles that I'm looking for to make much of a comeback. Hence, it's likely that I'm going to be done for good sometime before the end of 2013.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

SH116 - The Spark

video: Great Teacher Onizuka
music: Ensign - "Left Hand Syndrome"
link: depositfiles [16.2 MB]
editor: Magix 2.0+ deLuxe
production date: January 2011

The commitment to finishing out the existing idea queue is manifest in this one; under normal circumstances, you don't make melodic hardcore videos when you're closer to 40 than 20, but this is an idea that dates back to when that wasn't true. Other stuff got in the way, but here it is completed, and resolutely earnest and irony-free. "Some say that rock critics hang on to rock music because they want to preserve their youth, but this is stupid: say rather that they want to preserve their rebellion."